Open relationships. The first thought that comes to a lot of people’s minds is, “how does that even work?” Or, “I could never!” But many others consider and even prefer the non-monogamous route. There are many things to consider in an open relationship, but most important is your partner and their feelings.
Polyamory is defined as the practice of having more than one romantic relationship at a time. It is not cheating on your current partner, but rather an agreement made between partners to have other sexual and/or emotional partners. After interviewing a full-time relationship coach for polyamorous couples, Cassie Fuller, creator and founder of A Touch of Flavor, I have come to a better understanding of polyamorous relationships, and how they work. Like all relationships, they deal with jealousy, resentment, guilt, love, boundaries, and everything in between.
People choose polyamory for many reasons, from strengthening their bond and the growth of their relationship, to exploring sexual diversity. However, if this is the route you want to go, do not choose it thinking it will instantly solve problems within your relationship. If you are considering a polyamorous relationship, there are many factors to consider. These factors include managing time, setting boundaries, making and sticking to agreements, and most importantly communicating clearly.
I always wondered how such a relationship worked. Did anyone get jealous? Do they split alone time? These questions and more were answered by Cassie, giving me an in-depth understanding of polyamorous relationships. Surprisingly, monogamous and polyamorous relationships share a lot of the same principles. Let’s take a look at what makes polyamory work.
Your Current Relationship Must Be In Order
Like any relationship, before deciding to jump into any serious commitment, whether marriage, having a baby, or even moving in together, your relationship must be in a good place. The same concept applies before considering a polyamorous relationship.
This point is extremely important according to Cassie, stating, “If you and your partner are having problems in other areas of your relationships, opening up your relationship IS NOT going to fix it! In fact, it may highlight those things and make them worse. If you have problems in your relationship, work on those things first before adding other people into the mix.”
Boundaries Are A Must
I assumed there were rules to help a polyamorous relationship function smoothly. So much goes into multiple relationships, that there must be mutual agreement between all parties involved.
Cassie was very passionate about the idea of rules, and how to create an agreement that works for everyone. “Personal boundaries are super important. These are things you aren’t willing to do. But people confuse boundaries by putting rules on their partners. Boundaries are things you decide for yourself. You should not have rules, rules are for children, not adults. Adults make agreements that work for everyone. If you find an agreement isn’t working, you talk about what isn’t working and make a new one,” she explained.
Communication Is The Key To Success
Communication is the key to success for pretty much everything in life. If you want a raise, you communicate it to your boss with supporting reasons. If you want your spouse to understand you, communicate with each other.
Polyamorous relationships depend on communication just as much, between everyone involved. If you do not talk about what you want and need, things will go awry. If an agreement is not working with you, rather than going a different route, you must communicate it first and then work together for a new solution.
Create A Schedule
Life is already hectic with work, your relationship, friendships, children, and being as fit as possible. Creating a schedule is a must in order to survive. Being in a relationship with multiple people makes a need for time management. Once you have established boundaries within the relationships, next comes the time divvying.
“When you have more than one partner you have to really think about time differently. As much as we have no limit to the love we can give, we do have a limited number of hours in a day,” explained Cassie. You can split the time however you want, as long as it is okay with the partners. One may really be into sports, while the other partner may not. You can enjoy different activities with each of your partners that the other/s may not necessarily have an interest in.
Jealousy Is Normal
Jealousy is a normal emotion and occurs in all relationships, including polyamorous ones. The important thing is how you handle the jealousy. We have all dealt with jealousy in our lives, whether through relationships, work, and even friends. You can choose to handle it two ways, talk about it, or make it an issue.
“Jealousy is like any other emotion. We all get angry or sad sometimes. It’s what you do with those feelings that matter,” Cassie added, “Do you talk to your partner about your feelings, needs and wants? Or do you cause an argument? It’s all about figuring out why those feelings are happening and what can be done about them.”
Loving More Than One Person Is Possible
This was something I had to inquire about. I always wondered how the dynamic worked between multiple partners, and if you love one more or less than the other. Cassie made a reference about loving your children; you do not love your first child as much anymore when having a second one. The same goes for another partner.
You Want To Try It But Your Partner Doesn’t
I am sure not everyone is down to be polyamorous, but what if someone in the relationship wanted to explore it? What if the spouse did not? What happens then? I asked these questions to Cassie, and her response was spot on. While polyamory is not for everyone, some people are okay with their spouse being polyamorous while they remain monogamous. In order for this to work, they both have to be okay with it. Some partners may not be okay with their significant other seeing other people.
I couldn’t agree more with the response given. According to Cassie, “Many times someone not wanting to give this a try is scared that they are going to lose their partner. You are going to want to really discuss their concerns. But at the end of the day, if your partner is not okay with it, you can’t force them. And cheating is always a no-no! At the point where you two don’t see eye to eye on this, you have to decide if the two of you are compatible.” In the end, it is important to be compatible, and accepting of the person you are with and their choices.
Polyamory and monogamy share a lot of the same principles within a relationship. Polyamorous couples experience many loves in their life without having to choose just one. Also, it is more common than you think. A study in 2014 found that between 23-40% of men and 11-22% of women are curious to try it. In 2016, YouGov conducted a study, which found that only half of Millennials (under 30-years-old) want a completely monogamous relationship.
Open relationships are different from “standard” social expectations. But they are not wrong; they are “extraordinary in an ordinary world.” Choose whatever fits your desires and what works for both you and your partner. If you need some guidance and want to work on creating amazing non-monogamous relationships, without destroying the one you already have, I recommend reaching out to Cassie at A Touch of Flavor.